Battle of Tannenberg

Key Facts:
This battle between the Russian army and Germany army was fought during World War I in August 26-31, 1914. It was the first major battle during World War I that was fought and ended in the victory for Germany. In late August 1914 the destruction of the Russian Second Army virtually ended Russia's invasion of East Prussia before it had really even started. The Russian army marched into Prussia. However, because of the differences in railway gauge between Russia and Prussia it was difficult for the Russians to get supplies through to their men. The Germans, on the other hand, used their railway system to surround the Russian Second army at Tannenberg before it's commander could realise what was happening. The battle was a heavy defeat for the Russians with thousands of men killed and 125,000 taken prisoner. Although the Germans won the battle, 13,000 men were killed.

Tannenberg, Battle of, 1914
Tannenberg, Battle of, 1914

The strategy that was used by the Germans and Russians is shown in this picture to the left.Russians plan to go against Germany was by sending two armies against the East Prussian salient. The first army would advance West across the Niemen River and the second would gonorthwest from Russian Poland. They were planning to cut off and destroy German forces in the province but the coordination between two of the divisions was poor. This led to problems for the Russians. It also was partly because of inadequate communications and poor staff work between the commanding generals.

Key People:
Helmuth von Moltke
Helmuth von Moltke

Two Russian armies, the 1st, which was under General P.K. Rennenkampf, and the 2nd, under A.v. Samsonov, invaded German East Prussia in August 1914. Rennenkampf fought a successful action at Gumbinnen on August 20 but failed to maintain contact with Samsonov.
Afterward, the man in the picture to the right below,Helmuth von Moltkes took control to the Russian armies. He was the general chief the German army at the outbreak of World War I. Motke sent five devisions from the critical right wing and sent them to East Prussia where the Russians had moved faster than they anticipated. He then abandoned his usual noninterventionist leadership style and instructed his commanders to push the Allies away from Paris to the southwest, resulting in the Battle of the Marne.
The German commanders Paul von Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorff, making use of a plan devised by Lieutenant Colonel Max Hoffmann, threw all their strength against Samsonov’s isolated army near Uzdowo, just south of the historic site of Tannenberg (August 26). Samsonov fell back, losing almost half of his army in the next few days. Samsonov shot himself in despair on August 29. The Germans took 92,000 prisoners. The Russians lost another 30,000 killed or wounded, while the Germans sustained a total of only 13,000 casualties.

Russia's poor performance in World War I brought about the downfall of the czarist empire. The Germans dealt the Russians such a crushing defeat at the Battle of Tannenberg in August 1914 that Russia never threatened German soil for the remainder of the war. After the German victory at Tannenberg it later set the stage for the First Battle of Masurian Lakes, where the reinforced German Eighth Army now faced only the Russian First Army and forced it back over the border. Russian forces would not again march on German soil until the end of World War II .

A German monument was completed in 1927. However it was blown up by the Germans during the retreat in January 1945. There also was a film created about the battle
in 1932. It was created by German film director Heinz Paul and was filmed in East Prussia.